Sunday, June 13, 2004  
Q & A with Chicago Tribune Writer, Rick Morrissey

One of my favorite reads each day is the column written by Rick Morrissey. I generally agree with his opinions on the Cubs. Recently, we had the privilege of asking Rick some questions. It's always a great privilege to pick someone's brain, especially when they are getting paid to do what we all love to do. We asked Rick ten questions. His responses were very well thought out and enjoyable to read. Enjoy!!!

Q - Your May 26th story on W.P. Kinsella's new book made your respect for his
work clear. Among sports columnists (yourself not included, of course) which
writer's work do you respect the most and why?

A - That would be a long list because there is so much good writing going on out there, and some of it people might not have heard of. Many of these columnists aren't on TV and radio all the time -- just off the top of my head, Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Gary Shelton of the Tampa Tribune, Harvey Araton and Ira Berkow of the New York Times, Bill Lyon of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bill Plaschke of the LA Times. I like Mike Downey at my paper and Rick Telander at the Sun-Times. Pound for pound, Bernie Lincicome is still one of the best writers in the country. There are a lot of people I'm leaving out.
The common thread is that these guys can mix it up with good points of view, good writing, humor and a hammer, when necessary and not simply to get a reaction.

Q - Is the continued reign of Bud Selig as Commissioner good or bad for baseball and why?

A - I have mixed emotions about this. I think Bud has a terrible time making decisions, to baseball's detriment. He never should have considered the idea of Spider-Man ads on bases, but he approved it, then did away with it under pressure. He ended the All-Star Game a few years ago when it was tied in extra innings --the message being the game doesn't matter much -- then comes up with a plan to use the All-Star Game to determine home-field advantage in the World Series. Doesn't make a lot of sense. But I think he was able to introduce a dose of economic sanity to baseball when he was able to stop the union's run of victories. He should be remembered for that. I'm not sure he will be.

Q - Who do you see as the one individual in the Cubs' organization who could make or break this season? From Hendry to Dusty to the players to the equipment manager, who can propel them to the top or drag them to the bottom?

A - The burden is going to be on Jim Hendry. For all the good he has done, the injuries have been pulling the Cubs down, to the point where Hendry is going to have to make some deals eventually. I still think everything is going to be all right in the long run this season if everybody comes back healthy, but the more this drags on, the more that "if" gets bigger.

Q - Which baseball team did you grow up rooting for?

A - I grew up a Cub fan in Oak Park, but that was a long time ago. One of the unfortunate aspects of my job is that it knocks the ability to be a fan right out of you. I appreciate good stories and great games, but I don't root for a team. A 10-game losing streak could be a very compelling story, as heretical as that might sound.

I have three kids, 11, 12 and 14, and it's fun watching them go through the ups and downs of being a baseball fan in this town. But all I think about at each game is, "OK, what do I want to say about this game or this person or this play?"

Q - There is no online biography of you (or the other writers) on the Tribune's site or on Can you fill us in on your path to the Tribune, and tell about your best writing job of all time?

A - I went to Fenwick High School and had an idea then that I'd like to be a writer. I was lucky enough to win a Chick Evans caddy scholarship to Northwestern and studied journalism there. My first job was at Star Publications in the south suburbs. I was hired as a news reporter but decided to try sportswriting when there was an opening after about six months there.

I went from there to Fort Wayne, Ind., to Charlotte to Denver, where I covered the Broncos for eight seasons. I came to the Tribune in 1997. I had been trying to get a job at the Trib or Sun-Times for years but had no luck. I must have had a lot of luck built up because after about three years, I was writing the "In the Wake of the News" column.

This is the best job I've ever had and I have no reservations saying this is one of the best newspaper jobs in the country. I get to write about whatever I want.

Q - Of any active player in any sport, whom do you enjoy talking with the most and why?

A - Kerry Wood. He's accessible, cooperative and willing to talk. A writer can't ask for more than that.

Q - Of all the articles you have written for the Trib, which one is your favorite and why? (Please include a link if possible)

A - I don't mean to be dark here, but I think the best column I wrote for the Trib came in the few days after 9/11. Athletic events had been postponed because of the attacks, and like everyone else, I was feeling very down about what had happened. I went to Northwestern, where there was supposed to be a football game, and to Wrigley, where there was supposed to be a baseball game. I wished for simpler times. I think we were all grasping for something to hold on to, and I'd like to think the column reflected it. (Joe, I don't have a link. I'll try to find the column and e-mail it to you.)

~Update~ Rick has e-mailed me a copy of the article he refers to and I will forward it to anyone who requests a copy. I can't post it here due to copyright laws. Just e-mail me and I will pass it on.

Q - Your May 31st story on football player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death outlined why you think he was a hero. How do you define a hero and what can a professional athlete do ON THE FIELD that would make him a hero?
Was Jordan a hero? Sosa in '98? Or does it take a Rick Monday flag-grab to be a hero?

A - In light of what's going on in the world, I can't call any athlete a hero for what he or she does during competition. It's not heroic to hit a home run or hit a winning shot or run back a punt. It's breathtaking for sure. It might even take guts to attempt the winning shot. But heroic? No. Let's reserve that for people who give up some of themselves for something they believe in. If somebody gives up a job to work for the Peace Corps, then that person is a hero. That's why I thought so highly of what Tillman did (and I'm not a supporter of this war).

Q - What do you feel is the biggest problem (excluding injuries) the Cubs have this year and how would you like them to fix it?

A - I think they lack speed on the bases, and this ties in directly with Corey Patterson's problems. He refuses to shorten his swing. He continues to swing at high fastballs. In other words, he's not trying hard enough to get on base. He's taking runs from the Cubs. Drives me crazy.

Q - How often, if ever to you read Cubs Blogs (i.e. The View From The Bleachers) and what is your overall impression of them?

A - I don't read them much at all, and that's a reflection on me and not the people who do it. I don't have a whole lot of time to be online, what with my job and my family. But I will say this about blogs: There is room for a lot of voices. It would be a boring (and twisted) world if everybody agreed with what I write.

TVFTB - Thanks again for being kind enough to do this Rick. It means a lot to us and hopefully our readers will enjoy it.

RM - Good Luck.

Well, that's it. Ten questions with our favorite writer over at the Chicago Tribune. I hope you guys enjoyed the Q & A session. It was nice to see that he is just as frustrated with Mr. Patterson as we are here at TVFTB. Please let us know your responses to the Q & A session. Leave comments on what you agree and disagree with. Also, if you would like a copy of that article, e-mail me and let me know.

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